Depression

Updated 27 May 2014

Altruistic teens tend to be more upbeat

Researchers monitored activity levels in certain parts of the brain and concluded that altruistic teens were less likely to become depressed.

0

Teens who like to help others may be less likely to develop depression, a new study suggests.

The study included 15- and 16-year-olds who were given three types of tasks: give money to others, keep the money for themselves or take financial risks with the hope of earning a reward.

The researchers monitored activity levels in a brain area called the ventral striatum, which controls feelings of pleasure linked to rewards. The teens were checked for symptoms of depression at the start of the study and a year later.

Read:
Grey matter increases altruism

Activity in the ventral striatum in response to the different types of rewards predicted whether the teens would have an increase or decrease in depression symptoms, according to the study published online recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Declines in depression

"If they show higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they show increases in depressive symptoms over time. And if they show higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they show declines in depression," study author Eva Telzer, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a university news release.


"This study suggests that if we can somehow redirect adolescents away from risk-taking or self-centred rewards and toward engaging in these more pro-social behaviours, then perhaps that can have a positive impact on their well-being over time," she added.

Previous research has shown that teens tend to have higher levels of ventral striatum activity, suggesting that they experience the pleasure of rewards more intensely than adults or younger children, according to the news release. Most of that research has focused on the link between ventral striatum activity and risk-taking by teens.

This study shows that ventral striatum activity may also have a positive effect in teens, Telzer said.


Read more:

Depression causes brain damage
Depression likely in brain injured


Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules